Common Hostility in the Workplace, Part II

Here is another true story.  Greg Gupta is taking part in a business meeting with his boss and co-workers.  There has been a monster screw-up and the boss wants to get to the bottom of the problem.  One of the co-workers, Lazy Larry Lungwort puts the reason for the screw-up squarely on Greg’s shoulders by erroneously describing what took place. If Greg says, “That’s not what happened” or “I did no such thing,” he will be taking a weak, defensive posture. Greg asks himself, “What should I do? What should I say?”

Since this takes place in front of everyone with whom Greg works, he decides to explain things privately to the boss later on. But this action does not resolve things for Greg.  He is still enraged by Larry’s false claims.  Lazy Larry has done this before.  Greg is furious and sits up half the night thinking up things he should have said or done to take back control of the situation and come off feeling good about himself. The fact that Greg did nothing at the moment of the attack leaves him feeling angry, used, abused, embarrassed and inept. He begins to consider how he might get even with Lazy Larry once and for all.

Greg comes up with a great plan. The company is one of five in a specialized technical business. All the CEO’s in these five businesses know one another and have agreed not to steal one another’s highly trained staff members. Furthermore, they have also agreed to immediately terminate any staff person at any one of the companies who seeks a position for more money at one of the other companies.

Lazy Larry keeps an updated resume on his computer. So, very early one morning, Greg sneaks into Larry’s cubicle, downloads his resume and sends it to the CEO’s of the other four companies. The cover letter Greg sends with the resume states, “I am seeking a position with greater responsibility that is commensurate with my vast experience and an increase in salary that will reflect a greater appreciation of my technical expertise.” One week later, Lazy Larry is summarily terminated. Greg feels happily justified. He leveled the playing field. Lazy Larry, however, has no idea how or why his resume got into the hands of the other organizations.

What is perplexing about passive aggressive behavior is that you may not realize you have angered a person until these strange behaviors start showing up. Passive aggressive behavior is not the way to resolve a conflict.  You have to speak up and address the situation and the aggravation immediately in a calm and respectful manner. The process can be learned.  You should never have to sacrifice your self-esteem or endure the disrespect another person. Being able to keep a composed demeanor in the face of infuriating situations will enable you to quickly move into conflict resolution. This ability will alleviate many of the daily tensions and stress which often make life so difficult. This is the key to personal power. It is also the secret to conflict resolution because it leaves no one feeling defeated and desiring reprisal.

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